Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Creating Art

This past week we had an Art Show for the Art Group I coordinate at the Stroke Recovery Association of Manitoba.

We get together every Wednesday morning at the Stroke Recovery center. We put out lots of different art supplies and participants are able to work on anything they want to. This is certainly not an art class but an opportunity for self expression. Some enjoy the details and work on the same project for a period of weeks while others might produce several pieces in a morning.  I try to offer a new idea, technique or medium each month and encourage participants to give it a try. You never know when something new might turn out to be an activity you will love doing. The creative arts have a special role in helping us find joy and well being in our lives.

The group was originally organized by an Art Therapist and focused on a psychological therapeutic model. When she left the group continued on as a social and peer support group that enjoyed creating art. Eventually I began to help with the group. As a Recreation Therapist I try to support the social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs of the group members but always... enjoyment and fun need to be the priorities at our art mornings.

I try to encourage participants to try new things and engage in learning new skills.  We try to use weaker hands and eyes to gain improved control and strength and we try to work on any left neglect issues that might have occured with strokes.

Decision making, focusing attention, spatial processing, sequencing and planning as well as other cognitive skills can begin to improve as we work on creating art. We assist individuals in trying new tricks and adaptive methods to reach their goals. Something as simple as using painters tape can keep the art paper from sliding away and a Masonite board can increase options for supporting the paper at different, more comfortable angles, kind of like a clipboard. That painters tape can even result in an attractive border strip around a painting!

We share our friendship. We express ourselves through conversation and also with our art. We create. We share our accomplishments and we feel proud of what we achieve.

P.S. One of the ladies at the art show said I needed a picture of me at the art show. I was trying to get pictures of my artists but had not even thought of getting a picture of myself. The picture above was Vera's first attempt to take a picture with a phone and I think it is wonderful!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fish Fry for the Seniors

Yesterday we did an interesting program at work. We had a fish fry lunch!

My co-worker, on this Fathers Day weekend shift, is a man who has a lot of past experience in leading  youth camping and other outdoor programming and he suggested that we go out on our patio and use an old fashioned Colman camp stove to cook up a fish fry! I thought that was pretty brilliant. With my camping experience we were on the same page about what a good experience this could be and how to do it!

My co-worker, D, took care of all the food aspects and I was supposed to do a few fishing games, fishing reminiscence and jokes but we didn't get all those extras fit in. I wound up spending my time inviting residents to join us for lunch and then transporting them to the patio.  I think they couldn't believe I was serious that we were having a cookout.

We have a small but  nicely treed fenced patio that is surprisingly pleasant oasis to have in our downtown facility surrounded by large buildings.  We set up a cooking station and had a picnic table set up with an old green Colman Stove. Our  menu consisted of  batter dipped cod fish fillets, bannock or fry bread and baked beans.  One fun aspect was that D. found some nice divided take out containers that we used as disposable dishes. They were perfect for our outdoor lunch. People loved sitting out on this beautiful day, listening to a favorite CD of country music, watching the camp cooking and eating such a rare style of cooking for a Personal Care Home. 

I was exhausted by 1 pm. so I was really glad we had planned an easy afternoon. My co-worker set up the dining room for watching a movie and put on a Three Stooges marathon DVD. Whoever wanted to watch it could.  This was a good choice because it is a series of very short films and on a day like Fathers Day there is a lot of coming and going of visitors, so it made it easy for people to join in at any point in the program or even for people to come and share a laugh with their loved ones.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Love. You. Run for Women

Yesterday was a great running event called Love. You.    Run for Women

It was an event in support of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart and the Running Room. They also hosted runs in other provinces supporting  local mental health associations.

Did you know that in Canada,
  • On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work due to mental illness?
  • Mood disorders occur at a rate of 5.4 percent of the population.
  • 1 in 8 adults will suffer symptoms during their lifetime.
  • Seniors suffer at a rate of 1 in 4. 
  • Women suffer from depression at double the rate of men.
These are huge numbers!

My daughter and my 8 year old granddaughter took part in this run last year and this year my 5 year old grandson joined in too. They have a category for young children to run a kilometer just for fun and all the kids get a nice medal on a ribbon plus snacks and a loot bag.  After the 8:30 children's event we moved on to the 10K run or walk and to the 5 K run or walk. Our Mayor was even there and called the start for the race. It was all very exciting!  Next year I will bring a decent camera and  maybe I will be in good enough shape to try the 5K myself!

It was a nasty cold morning, near freezing, but keeping moving and then hot chocolate and a fleecy blanket all helped keep my little grand-kids warm. They had a few games for the kids, a photo booth, a wall to write encouraging thoughts on, a booth to raise awareness about mental illness. There was Japanese style drumming for entertainment and a few speeches- one included the news that they had raised, with the help of Shopper Drug Mart, over $40,000. That is going to go a long way to making a difference to a lot of people.

I know that life changing illness, such as stroke, heart attack, cancer diagnoses have a profound effect on ones emotional and mental health. I was very fortunate that as part of my rehab I was required to work with a social worker who was trained to support us in dealing with all the changes that were happening to me and my family.

People need to know that there is indeed help out there for mental health issues. If you or your family and friends are having a hard time you need to know that you are not alone.

From the Canadian Public Health Agency:

What is Depression?

Everybody goes through "ups and downs" in their lives. Sometimes we use the term "depression", or "depressed" to describe these everyday feelings.

But the normal experiences of life shouldn't be confused with the serious medical illnesses known as mood disorders. There are different kinds of depressive mood disorders, including bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), perinatal depression, but clinical depression, or major depression is the most common mood disorder.

Mood disorders are very real illnesses that can have serious and sometimes fatal results. They affect the entire body and not just the mind. Their physical symptoms can range from fatigue to stomach complaints or muscle and joint pain. Many people never realize that they are suffering from depression.

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